Over the course of this week, Minneapolis City SC announced a major set of changes to their coaching and organizational structure, highlighted by the news that its reigning NPSL Midwest Region Coach of the Year Adam Pribyl would step up to what the club is calling an Athletics Director position. The team also announced that former Bethel assistant and Crows assistant coach Matt vanBenschoten will move up from the under-23 head coaching spot to take over the senior team for 2019, with Hamline women’s assistant Jeremy Handler taking the U23s through next season.
Switching from the coaching bench to a technical role, Adam Pribyl will leave following an undefeated season in North Conference play in advance of the team’s expected berth in the 2019 U.S. Open Cup. It’s at a time of growth for the organization: the team also announced its intention to start under-19 programming by the 2020 season. “We want to build a development pathway for local players that bridges club/high school soccer and college/professional soccer,” Pribyl said, with the team noting internal and external desire to further shape young players that may ultimately feature for the Crows.
“With his vast experience in building out athletics infrastructure plus his deep knowledge of the players and the club, [Pribyl] is the perfect choice for this role. He will help us level up,” club president Dan Hoedeman said in a team statement, alluding to Pribyl’s experience shaping the athletics program at Minneapolis’s DeLaSalle High School, where he’s served as Student Activities Director for the last three years. “He knows the club. He knows the players. He knows what they need to succeed. He knows what we need to do to achieve our mission, and that is the most important part: that we continue to work toward our mission.”
The switch opened up a role for the team to promote Matt vanBenschoten to a head role with the senior club. Following a wide search led by the team’s Sporting Director Jon Bisswurm, “there were a lot of name candidates that were interested. But in Matt,” Bisswurm said, “we have a top coach, a coach the players respect, and a guy who is all-in on City. He is the top choice.” vanBenschoten’s experience with the team’s U-23s last season was cited by the club as a big factor in their decision, both with the expected movement of players to the senior side and the club’s long-standing desire to keep a continuous culture.
“This is an incredible organization that I fell in love with when I started taking my kids to games three years ago, so to be put in a this position is something that I am truly grateful for” vanBenschoten said in a club statement. “I was fortunate last season to be able to learn so much from Adam while working with the NPSL team and I am excited to take that knowledge and build off the success we had last year. Our front office has laid a great foundation for us going into the 2019 season and I can’t wait to get in front our ‘Citizens.’”
With vanBenschoten moving up, the club opted to look outside to bring in Jeremy Handler to coach the U-23s. Handler’s resume includes time working with the Augsburg men’s and Hamline women’s teams, as well as working with rivals Minnesota TwinStars last season in an assistant coaching role. He’s also been on the staff list for MYSA’s Olympic Development Program for the last six years, and currently works as a coaching apprentice with Minnesota United FC’s Development Academy.
Club officials praised Handler’s coaching and tactical style following their interview process. “I can’t wait to see Jeremy start working with these guys,” said club President Dan Hoedeman. “If last year is any indication, there is a hunger there from the players to compete, to improve, to get to the next level. And in Jeremy those players will someone who will help them elevate.” Indications from the club suggest that the U-23 team will get added opportunities to compete next season, with advanced plans for the team to compete in a formal league in 2019 after playing a series of friendlies against primarily UPSL and MASL Division 1 clubs last year.